Celebrity Head Transplants (Katie Couric Edition)

First in a series from our Wait, What? desk

The hardwrinkling staff gets the whole cosmetic surgery thing, especially for those in the media spotlight.

But sometimes you get the (non-Botox) feeling that the makeovers have gone too far.

Exhibit A: Yahoo! News (Face) Katie Couric, who’s currently appearing in the CDC’s Screen for Life colorectal campaign, which features this PSA.


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That’s Katie Couric?

Actually, that’s the Katie Couric template.

Which is probably as close as we’ll ever get to her.

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Airbnb’s Cuba Libre: Room and Coke?

Now that America and Cuba are on speaking terms again, it’s only natural that U.S. businesses get down to business, Havana-style.

An early entrant is Airbnb, which ran this ad in yesterday’s New York Times:


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Aircba is all the rage nowadays, as the Googletron attests.


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It’s one more indication of capitalism’s Fidel-ity to the nearest buck.

In this case, just 90 miles away.

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Mickey D and the Big Town Dailies

From our It Doesn’t Ad Up desk

So, go figure.

Fast-food giant McDonald’s announced on Wednesday that it will hike wages and benefits for employees at the stores it owns.

McDonald’s then trumpeted that change with a full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times.

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For editorial coverage in the Times, McDonald’s got a lower-left front-page tease.


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Crosstown at the Wall Street Journal, McDonald’s did not run an ad, but its pay hike got Page One coverage.

McDonald’s To Raise Pay In Its Stores, Joining Others

McDonald’s Corp. plans to raise wages by more than 10% for workers at U.S. restaurants it operates—fresh evidence of the rising wage pressure in the American labor market.

Starting July 1, McDonald’s will pay at least $1 an hour more than the local minimum wage for employees at the roughly 1,500 restaurants it owns in the U.S.

The move follows similar efforts by other major U.S. employers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which is raising hourly pay for 500,000 workers to at least $10 next year, and reflects wider public pressures over income inequality as well as intensifying competition for low-skilled workers.

Helpful graphic:


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So, to recap: No Big J journalism point here, just a bag of shells.

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Stones Snub Hub in Upcoming Tour

Hey, Boston: The Rolling Stones got no expectation . . . to pass . . . through here . . . again.

From the Associated Press (tip o’ the pixel to Politico Playbook):

Rolling Stones announce North American stadium tour


LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Rolling Stones are zipping across North America again.

The rock band announced a 15-city stadium tour Tuesday that will kick off May 24 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. Other stops include Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Dallas, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; Orlando, Florida; and Nashville, Tennessee.

The so-called “Zip Code” tour will once again reunite singer Mick Jagger, drummer Charlie Watts and guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood.

The last time the Rolling Stones played North American stadiums was during their “A Bigger Bang Tour” in 2006. They opted for arena venues for their “50 & Counting” tour in 2012 and 2013.

The other lucky towns this time around? Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Kansas City, Missouri; Raleigh, North Carolina; Indianapolis, Indiana; Detroit, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; and Quebec, Canada.

But no Boston.

(To be sure graf goes here.)

To be sure, the boys did give us two memorable post-Marathon Bombing concerts in 2013. But really, how many tours do they have left in ’em?

Let’s hope at least two.

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Say Hello to the New Shoefie!

From our Fear for the Republic desk

This is an example of the traditional (that is, for all of a year) shoefie.


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But there’s good news for the Me, Myselfie, and I set! A whole new definition of shoefie from Miz Mooz.


Coachella and Lollapalooza just banned the selfie stick, but they’ll never ban your shoes. Forget fussing with selfie sticks ever again, Miz Mooz has answered your prayers for the latest upgrade in selfie technology: the Selfie Shoe.
Kick back, relax and take a #shoefie!

That’s right: The Shelfie Shoe, the latest way to celebrate the youness of . . . you!

Helpful video:



The pitch:

At Miz Mooz, we understand the importance of looking great without giving up the comfort our women on-the-go have come to love about our footwear. Introducing the Selfie Shoes.

No matter where you go, you’ll always be camera-ready. Just insert your phone into the port at the front of either your right or left shoe, raise it to the perfect angle and click the internal button with a tap of your toe to take the photo. With the Selfie Shoes, you no longer have to use your arm, so now both hands are free to be in the photo.


Both hands!


As my old man used to say, Good Lord.

P.S. This is not, to the best of our knowledge, an April Fools’ Joke. Would that it were.

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Wait-What? The Entire New York Daily News Is Worth Less Than Its Newsstand Price?

It’s no secret that New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman is desperate to unload his Big Town money pit tabloid, but this is ridiculous (via Capital Playbook):

“Cablevision’s Dolan to bid $1 for Daily News: sources,” by Post’s Keith J. Kelly and Emily Smith: “The bidding for the embattled Daily News is nearing the end of round one, and while a handful of suitors are kicking the tires, owner Mort Zuckerman may be disappointed with some of the offers the old jalopy is attracting. James Dolan, boss of Cablevision, MSG and Newsday, is preparing to bid $1 for the money-losing tabloid … Zuckerman was said to be hoping to fetch somewhere between $150 million and $200 million.” http://bit.ly/1NytGtT

So, just to be clear: The New York Daily News is worth less than one copy of itself?

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The Dolan Dollar Store would represent the worst newspaper beating since the New York Times Corp. offloaded the Boston Globe for $70 million (original purchase price $1.1 billion).

Here’s guessing Mort will take it like a (desperate) man.

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Just Call Him Mike Hucksterbee

Former Arkansas governor and current GOP presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee never met a quack product he wasn’t willing to sell (and we’re not even counting his old Fox News panderama).

Start with his shilling for a dubious diabetes treatment.



Not surprisingly, that went over like the metric system. From Bloomberg News:

That’s Mike Huckabee, Former Diabetes-Cure Spokesman, to You

He cuts ties with a company as he weighs a presidential campaign.

Not long after leaving his Fox News show to explore a presidential run, Republican Mike Huckabee has cut ties to a company for whom he promoted a cinnamon-linked diabetes treatment, a spokeswoman tells the New York Times.

Huckabee is a former Arkansas governor who was diagnosed with type-II diabetes before losing weight. As the Times reports, -1x-1his unsuccessful bid for president in 2008 was plagued by money trouble, and since then, he has “pursued some highly unconventional income streams.” (In addition to the scientifically “dubious” diabetes gig, the newspaper says, he has sold ad space in his e-mail newsletters for such products as a supposed Biblical cancer cure.)

Huckabee’s career as a frontman for the diabetes treatment will live on in this video, where he says the “solution kit” will “stop diabetes in its tracks and actually reverse it.”

Or actually reverse Huckabee’s political fortunes.

But wait! There’s more! A new pitch from Mr. Hackabee for an outfit called Food4Patriots!

From MSNBC’s First Read:

Now there’s the email Huckabee sent out to his list on Saturday entitled: “#1 Item You Should be Hoarding!” From the email: “Are Obama and FEMA going to buy up all the survival food? Something just happened that explains why tons and tons of survival food are literally flying off warehouse shelves. The sad part is, that if everyone could see what I see, we’d have half a chance! They think having a food stockpile ready for a natural disaster is something they can put off for ‘someday’ or ‘never.’ As it stands right now, it’s going to be every man for himself!… So I got in touch with my buddy Frank and put my order in for his Food4Patriots survival food kits. This is Frank’s new line of survival food and there are 4 reasons why it’s literally flying off the shelves.” Oh, man…

Our question: Is there anything Mike Hawkabee will not sell?

We’re guessing, himself.

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The Tale of the the Girlfriend, the Jewish Boyfriend, and the Dog

Maybe it’s just us, but the hardworking staff is starting to see a pattern emerging here.

Start with the ubiquitous Lena Dunham’s current piece in The New Yorker.

Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz


Do the following statements refer to (a) my dog or (b) my Jewish boyfriend?

1. The first thing I noticed about him was his eyes.

2. We love to spend hours in bed together on Sunday mornings.

3. He’s crazy for cream cheese.

4. It hasn’t always been easy, but we currently live together and it’s going O.K.

5. Our anniversary is in two days and I’m not sure if he remembers.

6. If it were up to him, every room in our place would be carpeted.

Almost immediately, Dunham got carpet-bombed.

From the Googletron:


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Hey, Lena: It’s all good (publicity).

Coincidentally, the Weekend Wall Street Journal featured this column in its Ask Ariely series.

Your Girlfriend or Your Dog?

Dear Dan,

Last week, I asked my girlfriend to move in with me. After an awkward silence, she said that she couldn’t move in with me because she’s scared of dogs and dislikes my small Jack Russell terrier. I love my girlfriend and don’t want to lose her, but I don’t want to give my dog away either. Any advice? —Mike

This was most likely a test of your love for her, and you failed—so you don’t really need to worry about this particular dilemma.RV-AP931_ARIELY_8U_20150327125117

Still, you may face something similar in the future. If we looked at your dilemma from a rational economic perspective, the answer would be straightforward: Start by writing down how much happiness you get each day from your dog and how much happiness you expect to get each day from your girlfriend. Next, multiply each of these numbers by the expected duration of the relationship and discount it by the natural decline in happiness as relationships go on. Then pick the relationship with the higher number.


Pick the relationship with the higher number?

What the hell is wrong with dog people?

Not to mention Lena Dunham.

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NYT’s John F. Burns Writes Into the Sunset

From our Late to the Going-Away Party desk

Yesterday’s New York Times featured the swan song of the storied John F. Burns, appropriately on Page One.

On Second Try, A Kingly Burial For Richard III


LEICESTER, England — For an English monarchy that has lasted more than 1,000 years, there can have been few more improbable occasions than the ceremony of remembrance here on Thursday for the reburial of one of the most bloodstained medieval sovereigns, King Richard III, who was slain in battle seven years before Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World.

After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — “Richard III, 1452-1485” — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times.

Burns knows from tumultuous times; in a Times piece celebrating the legendary foreign correspondent’s career, Susan Chira writes:

Who can forget his portrait of the Sarajevo cellist who unfolded his plastic chair and played Albinoni’s Adagio in the rubble of the decimated capital? The Afghan couple awaiting their stoning death at the hands of the Taliban, and the woman’s weeping son checking to see if she was still alive after the first hail of stones? It was John’s eye and heart that would not allow his readers to forget the suffering of people so far away, so seemingly unconnected to them.

At the end of yesterday’s piece, the Times posted this about Burns:


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Burns went out on a wholly appropriate note, writing about what he knew so well: war, celebrity, and British society. It’s good that he’s not going far.

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The Redoubtable Joseph Epstein Likes Xavier University!

As the splendid readers of our Two-Daily Town kissin’ cousin know, the hardworking staff is a proud alum of Xavier University, whose basketball team took a Brody  in the NCAA West Regional semifinal. But all is not lost! The Musketeers were winner in Joseph Epstein’s Wall Street Journal March Sadness piece chronicling his growing disillusion with “scholar-athletes . . . rented, like bridge chairs for a large dinner party” by various and sundry institutions of (less than) higher learning.


Such dark thoughts have been spinning through my head as I have attempted to watch, without much success, this year’s NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, March Madness, or the Big Dance, as it is also sometimes called. Because of these thoughts, I can’t get into it. I can’t find a team I want to win; only a few I hope will lose—Kentucky, Louisville, Oklahoma—because the reputation of their coaches is so shabby.

And yet . . .

Coaches, like women in T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” come and go, speaking not of Michelangelo but instead eagerly seeking more dough. Good small-school teams arise—in recent years, they have included Xavier and Butler—and one’s natural tendency is to cheer them on as the genuine underdogs they are. Soon, though, their coaches, the true reason behind their success, depart: Xavier’s to the sports factory that is the University of Arizona, Butler’s to the NBA. In the end, the weak get weaker and the strong stronger.

As Marv Albert would say . . . Yes!

P.S.: Xavier lost to – yes – the University of Arizona Thursday night.

Two-Daily Town sidebar here.

P.P.S. Joseph Epstein is the author, most recently, of Masters of the Games: Essays and Stories on Sport (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).

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